C. Vann Woodward's lesser light, James McPherson, has taken his show on the road and landed smack dab on the home ground of Woodward's star pupil Edward Ayers. McPherson, "the dean of American Civil War scholars," will speak at the University of Tennessee at Martin next month.
He is sponsored by something called the Vertical Immersion Program - McPherson is all horizontal immersion to me - and where Tennessee native Ayers has lately and publicly been applying purgatives to McPherson fans, the University of Tennessee can still muster a statement like, "James McPherson is the most prominent Civil War scholar of the past 30 years."
Unless I miscounted, that would be the most prominent since 1975. If memory serves, McPherson was an obscure race relations historian in 1975 with little familiarity with the Civil War.
The habit of praising McPherson extravagantly has passed beyond the bounds of reason, record, or history, or even decorum.
Not that I am an expert on decorum. But really.